Garfield (Bill Murray), the fat, lazy, lasagna lover, has everything a cat could want. But when Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer), in an effort to impress veterinarian and old high-school crush Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), adopts a dog named Odie and brings him home, Garfield gets the one thing he doesn't want. Competition. One night, Odie runs away and gets dog-napped after Garfield locks him outside. Garfield, in an out of character move, goes to search for and rescue Odie with the help of a variety of animal friends along the way.Written by
I Got You (I Feel Good)
Written and Performed by James Brown
Courtesy of Universal Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises See more »
Not as bad as the critics say, but not the best idea
After engaging in an effort to find a good review - much harder than I ever imagined it would be - and finding the movie listed at the bottom of the barrel, I felt almost an obligation to go see this on opening day - either to prove the critics wrong, or to get fodder for a scathing letter to Jim Davis. I ended up with neither.
The problem, admittedly, is what some critics have said: Garfield is old and busted. A walk in the theater reveals the new hotness: Harry Potter. The movie is, sadly, 10 years overdue. Just look at the long listing of Garfield TV specials, most of which are 1982-1992, and "Garfield and Friends" began in 1988. It was delayed, I read, because Jim Davis believed the technology wasn't there. It was; it's called regular animation. Garfield is a 2-D medium, either on the comics page or on animated cels. But, I guess, since no one does that anymore, 2004 couldn't have a 2-D Garfield.
The problem is not with Garfield, although some of the characteristics displayed are not those I associate with the cat. The problem is with the supporting cast who look, by and large, not like their animated counterparts. Who made Odie a wiener dog with talent? Why is Nermal Siamese? Shouldn't Arlene be a lot nicer to Garfield? The set design, in bright hues, can't decide whether it's in the real world or in a real-life comic strip. Breckin "Inside Schwartz" Meyer is just not the right fit for Jon. While I can accept the whole high-school- crush of Jon and Liz on each other (something definitely not in the comic strip), the payoff might have been better had they not kissed after the dog show.
The plot arc is not necessarily departed from all of Garfield. It fits more in the mid-1980s, when the strip actually did have week-plus-long plots. In one series, for example, Odie DID leave home, and Garfield DID follow him, and they ended up running away from the circus together. The comments that the strip has declined are not off-base.
It's times like this that remind me where I got my sense of humor. It came from the politically neutral wit and social commentary of the late 1980s - Garfield (both newspaper and television), Calvin and Hobbes, even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That's why I can't disagree with this line from the Chicago Tribune: "He's been declawed; the swiping humor and Monty Python meanness of his early years have been surgically removed for a PG audience, and with it, most of his appeal." And that hurts.
Today, Garfield is trapped in a one-day-only three-panel set of running gags that still make me laugh, but don't capture the same attitude of years past. However, I still prefer it to the overtly political ultra-liberal commentary found in strips like "Boondocks" or some others.
Had a full-length movie been released around 1994, done by the same animation team that did "Garfield and Friends," with Lorenzo Music doing the voice, it might have been wonderful. Live action does not suit the character; the departure from 25 years of what we have known is too much. The animated half-hour shows of the 1980s work so much better that they might have been able to make more money simply by scrapping the film and putting out DVDs. I hear "Garfield and Friends: The Complete First Season" is coming out, a TV show that captured the essence of the strip at its peak so much better than this movie did.
I wish that the networks would put "A Garfield Christmas" and some of his other specials back on the air. I still love the character. The movie doesn't deserve to be ranked where it is by the critics. At the same time, though, it reminds you of how good it might have been.
7/10, because I can't bring myself to demolish a character that still makes me laugh, even if his best work was from when I was young enough to be in the target audience.
22 of 33 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this